Mercedes S550 — sweet elegance and a tour de force

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

It was a 20-minute demonstration.

Astonishingly, it turned out to be enough to get us on the road with the radio tuned to our favorite satellite station and the climate control regulating the interior temperature at 72 degrees.

The guy who delivered the Mercedes-Benz S550 was very thorough considering he was interrupted several times with our questions.

Mercedes-Benz E350 – comforting in many ways

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

There is a reason the E-Class sedan is annually one of Mercedes-Benz’s best selling nameplates. The E-Class is the comfort food of automobiles.

A quick 60-mile trip to the airport and an equally furious trip back home were accomplished in the quiet comfort of a 2007 E350. The car was unobtrusive with its steady performance, outstanding braking and point-and-shoot steering and performed its tasks with an impeccable demeanor.

Mazda CX-7 gets plenty of zoom-zoom and sleek good looks

By Jim Meachen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — We pulled out of the hotel parking lot, found a hole in heavy D.C. traffic and hit the accelerator. The Mazda CX-7 answered with a startling and almost neck-snapping zoom-zoom.

It didn’t take but a few hundred yards in city traffic to appreciate the exuberance of this all-new crossover SUV (or CUV if you wish) that is energized by astounding low-end torque from a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, and very effectively lives up to Mazda’s six-year-old zoom-zoom theme.

Lincoln MKX – just what the doctor ordered – for now

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The all-new MKX crossover sport utility is the right vehicle at the right time for Lincoln. And Lincoln needs an infusion of right vehicles.

As predicted the MKX and the new MKZ sedan will have respectable sales in 2007 giving Lincoln a significant increase in year-over-year numbers. In fact, YTD through July Lincoln is up a significant 12.5-percent in a down market.

Was it a bold prediction? You won't think so once you’ve driven the MKX or the MKZ.

A new name and upgrades create the 2007 Lincoln MKZ

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Lincoln found unexpected success last year with the entry-level mid-sized Zephyr sedan.
It accounted for 33,114 sales in 2006, its first full year in showrooms, representing about 40 percent of Lincoln's car volume.

So, did officials break out the champagne to toast these encouraging statistics? No, they instead changed the name of the car to MKZ.

Lexus RX 350 – still leader of the pack

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Competition has exploded since Lexus invented the car-based luxury sport utility in 1998 with the breakthrough RX300.

Eight years ago, the RX300 was the only player in a segment known today as premium crossover. The Lexus set the standard for a slew of vehicles that followed with a pleasant ride, a luxurious and Lexus-quiet interior, bad-road capability and a smooth and powerful drivetrain. Darn good if not inspiring.

Lexus LS 460 – unencumbered luxury

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

While sitting behind the wheel of the 2007 Lexus LS 460 for the first time we were amazed at the absence of a joystick control knob, an item that has become fashionable on nearly every European and Japanese vehicle that dares to proclaim it a member of the luxury elite.

We have become programmed to believe that it’s necessary to complicate previously simple tasks in our rapidly changing technology-driven environment.

Lexus ES 350 gains power — quietly

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Auto writers are fond of drooling over luxury sports sedans that offer performance combined with slot-car-like road-holding prowess.

While we think as a group that this combination of vast horsepower, tuned suspensions and highly bolstered seats is the epitome of the four-passenger-over-35-grand genre, there are many buyers who value a soft compliant ride, whisper-quiet interior and recliner-comfortable seats.

Kia Rondo, the new small is efficiently bigger

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

We are blessed in this country with a large assortment of efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles.

No, the hydrogen fuel cell has not yet arrived to the general public. And the totally electric car is still awaiting revolutionary battery technology.

Jaguar XK convertible – be still our heart

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The luxury convertible segment is small. But its members are all superb renditions of modern automotive technology. All are high-dollar vehicles that give their owners status as well as immense driving pleasure.

Jaguar’s XK8 — which ceased production in June 2005 — is still a beautiful example of a luxury droptop. It’s sleek. It’s powerful. It’s gorgeous. It’s loaded with good stuff.